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Taylor-Blenis yodels with seniors

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

January 30th is National Yodeling Day. To celebrate, seniors at the Center for the Heights warmed up their voices and prepared for a concert and yodeling lesson with professional yodeler, dancer and instructor, Andy Taylor-Blenis.

Traditionally from a dance background, Taylor-Blenis found her way into yodeling through her parents. Marianne and Conny Taylor were folk dancers who founded and ran Oktoberfest in Stow, Vermont. As a child, she learned yodeling from Werner von Trapp of the family that inspired “The Sound of Music” film. Werner and Taylor published a book and recorded a CD of ten yodels. 

On the day, seniors were given books of music to follow along as Taylor-Blenis gave background into her life and guided a beginner-friendly yodeling masterclass. 

Taylor-Blenis has a strong philosophy about singing. At its core, she believes singing, especially yodeling, is about going for it and enjoying yourself. From a young age, she and her family sang constantly, everywhere from car rides to festivals. “For me, it is not only a family thing but a community thing.” 

She continues, “I love having people try yodeling and telling people it does not matter if you do it perfectly, just sing and try. The effort brings fun and easy results. It is important to share singing as well as yodeling. This is a community-building practice.” 

Taylor-Blenis sang along with seniors, and her yodeling partner and sister, Tina McBride, to yodel “Der Hamdia”. The acoustics, vocal shifts, and pitch are all to be considered in performances. Taylor-Blenis worked on technique with singers. “The notes go up and down a lot, like the mountains. Rocks run downstream and notes run down the scale,” Taylor-Blenis shared with the audience. She encouraged beginner yodelers to explore their voices and invite a vocal break (or voice cracking) to the song. Glottal switches from head and chest voice are a staple in yodeling. She and McBride sang in two-part harmony to demonstrate the emotion of the song.

The exploration had seniors laughing along and picking up quite a bit of vocal technique, as well.

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